Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Atom: The Blockheads

Most folks would start a blog post on the recently concluded anime Atom: The Beginning by saying what previous experience they have with Osamu Tezuka's best known work Mighty Atom (Astro Boy). I will be brief: I have no experience with it at all (except for Naoki Urasawa's manga adaptation Pluto). Atom: The Beginning is not one of Tezuka's own works, instead it is a currently running manga written and illustrated by Tetsuro Kasahara, although yes it does have some contributions/guidance from both Masami Yuki and Osamu Tezuka's son, Makoto Tezuka. 

Given that this is a different kind of Astro Boy story, much like Pluto in that way, I think it's fine that I came to it with more or less no experience. These days it's rather common for every currently airing anime with a manga source material to have their source material snapped up and licensed but strangely enough Atom hasn't been licensed here, ie, I have no idea how faithful or not this adaptation is to its source. Atom also seemed to be a bit of an unpopular anime; I'm not sure how much of this is due to its own merits and how much of this relates to the fact that it was streaming behind a double-paywall on Amazon's Anime Strike service, but typically for franchises I'm not familiar with I'll rely on the knowledge of other fans to fill me in on historical context, funny cameos etc etc. (I mean, I REALLY don't have the time to google every character, every event, and then try several different spellings and trying to search in Japanese too since that's what it often takes!).

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Eccentric Family 2

I really enjoyed the first season of The Eccentric Family. It was whimsical and magical in a very low-key way, even when the stakes became very high for Yasaburo and the rest of his tanuki buddies/family. Of course it always helps when the art is pretty as well, I liked the semi-flat, far less moe than most PA Works shows, style and there are still so many scenes that I can crisply remember thanks to both this artwork and their tone.

I was excited for the second season of the show, I wasn’t quite sure what else needed telling in the story but I was up for it! And now that the second season has ended I’m left asking myself, What was the point of that season?

The second season was not bad but it did not have the clear character developement and drive of the first season. I’ve seen folks mention that the source material for The Eccentric Family is a book series and while it’s set to be a trilogy the final book isn’t out yet (all I’ve heard about it is that it contains The Great Tengu War WHICH I AM SO DOWN FOR). That would explain some things, in my opinion the middle installment in a trilogy is the trickiest story to tell satisfactorily since it lacks the natural draw and tidiness that comes with either a beginning or an ending. 

And it certainly feels like we’re in the middle of Benten’s story. I was a bit frustrated that this season didn’t do even more with her since she is the most fascinating character in the series. It’s not that I don’t love our tanuki main cast but we already know them well; from their histories, hopes, to why their conflicts play out as they do. But Benten, born human Satomi Suzuki and spirited away and then trained by Akadama into becoming a tengu, is a real mystery all around (fun tidbit, it looks like Professor Yodogawa’s assistant is her brother!). Equally mysterious is another character with a name that’s not a name, Nidame (literally, The Second) who appears to be Benten’s inverse; a tengu (whom at this point I’m presuming born to Akadama) but who vocally eschews his tengu status, despite constantly doing things no human could. This is a thematic conflict ripe for development, even though I fear it might make the story messier as a whole (if, as Yasaburo says, there are tanuki, humans, and tengu, is it possible for someone to switch classes? And what about those oni in the demon world? Etc etc) 

The Eccentric Family 2 advanced some of the plots surrounding the Shinogami Family but it did not change anything about the larger tanuki society, or the even larger Kyoto society, really at all. And that’s where this season fell flat for me. The Eccentric Family is clearly a story with ideas of mixing in themes and conflicts between both personal and larger levels and yet it didn’t deliver this time. I can only hope that this second season was one of house-keeping, merely tidying up, for a grander, more foolish, finale.  

Monday, August 21, 2017

Summer Anime 2017 Initial Round-UP

Let me tell ya folks, I have NOT missed messing around in blogger to try and make sure my posts are actually legible. HOO BOY.

Anyway, as anyone who listens regularly to the The OASG podcast probably knows, I tried out a heck of a lot of anime this summer! I'm not keeping up with all of it but that's fine by me, I'm forever trying to find that happy balance between "this anime is only okay but I want to watch it alongside other people" and "this anime just isn't doing enough for me, let's work on my backlog instead." I am trying to plow through last year's Precure show, Mahou Tsukia Pretty Cure, since my plan is to finish that witch series before watching Little Witch Academia and then finish THAT before I go back to this year's Precure series, but really that's the only backlog show I'm watching right now too. Especially since I am still watching three shows from the spring (which again are Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul, My Hero Academia, and Sakura Quest) so once again I've got a full plate of shows to watch!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Spring 2017 Anime Final Thoughts

Hot damn, what do you mean I haven't even worked on a post since March?!
As I continue to struggle to figure out a new, sustainable posting schedule for NI (and probably won’t until September, grad school starts at the end of August and omg my life is going to be busy as heck) I did find the time to write about the spring shows I finished with a few exceptions:

The first set of exceptions are my three carry-over shows: Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul, My Hero Academia Season 2, and Sakura Quest. I will be talking about those shows, and writing related essays on them, once they wrap up in the fall.

 The other set of exceptions are two series where I’m more interested in writing short essay on aspects of them rather than doing one of these quick write-ups. Those two are The Eccentric Family 2 and Atom: The Beginning. So hopefully I will have two short essays up later in the month as well, and my thoughts on the summer shows should be posted soon too!

 Now, onto everything I finished, including some shows I started very late in the season (link to ANN pages for summaries so save myself time & energy hah).

Sunday, February 26, 2017

My Best of 2016

Dang, this is quite a bit later than I wanted.

I needed that break, not so much because reviewing was burning me out but life was burning me out in general. Work is less crazy after the holidays, I've been accepted into grad school which will cool my job search for a while, and Katsucon is done so I have fewer pressing panel/cosplay deadlines to get to.

Plus, the zoloft is REALLY kicking in now and guys, in hindsight I was pretty dang depressed last year. I had so many different health problems (did you know stress can fuck up your eating AND give you hives? Not simultaneously but I only fixed my eating problems after a little bit of bronchitis and the hives did drive me to the emergency room) that there was just no respite for me at all, there was always something going wrong for basically a solid year.

Personally 2017 is going better so far, although yes we have possibly the last president of the United States currently in power so I'm real glad for the zoloft keeping the "hamster ball of anxiety" in the back of my mind, not constantly in the forefront. But before I fully stride into 2017 with this blog I want to look back at 2016 one last time here and talk about the things I did love last year.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

As you might have noticed, a bit of a hiatus

Hey y'all.

So, I'm not quite sure what's going on but lately I've both been feeling better mentally (thanks meds) and also way more tired (possibly the same meds??? Or depression. Or an iron deficiency. Lots of variables here). And I also have a lot of other, mostly-short term projects going on that are wiping me out even more and, as you can see, blogging has taken a step back for me.

I'm still posting manga/light novel reviews over on The OASG every week but I think I'm going to take the rest of January off from here. I'm still working on my Best of 2016 post and I do have one more 12 Days of Anime post in the pipeline (although IIRC I'm only going to have 11 posts instead of 12, oops) and hopefully in February I'll have a few more things out of the way and I'll have the time to come back. Until then though, I feel like 2016 is still catching up with me and kicking my ass and the fight has gotten rather exhausting.